When it comes to attracting customers, increasing conversions, and boosting sales, search marketing is an indispensable marketing channel. But the question many eCommerce businesses are faced with is whether to hire in-house or use an agency. There are positives to both of these options, but only one will be right for your needs.

Managers should never rush into this decision, no matter how urgently your eCommerce business needs an effective marketing strategy. Choosing the right agency is much more important than the head start you might think you need. Taking a few extra days to go over your choices will really pay off in the long run when you find the perfect match.

This guide will help you to decide whether or not SEO agencies are right for you and how to pick the best one.

Hire a Search Marketing Agency or In-House?

Both SEO agencies and in-house experts have valuable skills to offer your eCommerce business. While an agency can connect you with a wide range of experts who are dedicated to their craft, an in-house employee will be more immersed in your company culture. This can potentially offer improved stability, but you might be missing out on essential services and insights you didn’t even think of.

Let’s break down the decision even further. Here are some things to consider before taking the plunge with a new search marketing agency or employee.


No matter how talented the employee you hire is, their skillset will never be quite as broad as that of an agency. After all, agencies have an entire team at their disposal that is ready to work on specific areas of your search marketing campaign.

If you know your marketing strategy will be more limited, then selectively hiring staff could meet your needs. But if your business is growing and developing all the time, an agency will be well-equipped to keep up with any changes.

Cost and Demand

Search marketing agencies can meet a higher demand at a lower cost. If your business needs an entire marketing team to get the job done, this could prove to be expensive in-house as you’ll have to pay the salaries of several people.

While a search marketing agency isn’t necessarily a cheap option, it can be more cost-effective, especially if your eCommerce business is still on the smaller side. But if your needs aren’t that great and the job can easily be handled by one person, hiring someone yourself could work out cheaper.


Having a dedicated marketing manager in-house can ensure you have consistent results. They’ll be completely focused on your business every hour of their working day. If you did have a sudden influx of work, you could outsource some tasks to a search marketing agency for a short period of time and allow your marketing manager to continue maintaining your current strategy.

This blended approach can be adapted as time goes on and you can choose to rely more on the agency or hire more staff.

So, What’s the Bottom Line?

Overall, if you have the means to invest in a search marketing agency, you should. Even if your eCommerce business is still growing, an experienced team of specialists could be exactly what it needs to accelerate its growth.

And don’t forget, it’s possible to test the waters for a few months with an agency. If you feel like they’re not right for your needs, you can move on. A full-time employee will be more difficult to part ways with, so you need to be sure in-house marketing is what you want before making a commitment.

What Type of Agency Should You Choose?

Now that you’ve decided that an agency will benefit your business more than an in-house employee, it’s time to think about what type of agency you want to work with. Not all agencies are created equal and they won’t all do the same job.

These are some of the marketing agencies you might come across and how they can help your business.

Integrated Marketing Agency

Offering a wide range of services, integrated marketing agencies can take care of your entire operation or supplement your current team where necessary. They have a varied team who can help you to create a strategy, maintain your website and produce promotional materials. Your search marketing needs will be considered as a part of this process, but you’ll benefit from much more as well.

The advantage of having all your marketing services in one place is that every element will work together seamlessly. If you outsourced the work to three different individuals to look after your blog, SEO, web design, and communications strategy, you run the risk of losing cohesion. An integrated marketing agency will understand the needs of your brand and adapt your strategy every step of the way.

Specialised Search Marketing Agency

Ideal for eCommerce businesses looking to boost only their search marketing strategy, agencies specialising in this one area will have an exceptional level of expertise. This might be helpful if your current marketing team lacks these skills or you’re just looking to accelerate growth.

Specialised search marketing agencies can also be worth considering when your business is predominantly online. Ecommerce businesses rely on being discovered through search, making it a crucial aspect to hone in on even if you already invest in other types of marketing. We are a specialised search marketing agency.


If you’re not sure an agency is right for you but are on the fence about hiring a permanent member of staff, a search marketing freelancer could be just what you need. Freelancers can offer you their services on a full-time or part-time basis for several months, allowing you to get the results you need without the commitment.
Alternatively, a freelancer could work alongside your permanent member of staff to support with demanding projects. Remember, a freelancer probably isn’t the best solution if you have a lot of work to cover.

Choosing the Right Search Marketing Agency

Once you’ve narrowed down your decision as much as possible, it’s time to commit to your search marketing agency of choice. Here are our top tips when it comes to determining whether the agency you choose is going to deliver the results you need.


Looking at your chosen agency’s portfolio or reviewing their case studies is a great place to start. This will give you a real insight into the kind of work they do. Not only will this shed light on the quality of their work, but you’ll be able to see if their approach aligns with your business’ values. While one of the benefits of marketing agencies is that they can adapt to a range of brands, a portfolio can reveal an overarching style that may or may not suit your needs.

Prices and Flexibility

Some SEO agencies will charge more than others, so think carefully about your budget before signing any contracts. But you’ll also need to think about how flexible this contract is and whether you’ll be billed by the hour, by project or on a monthly basis. Consider whether you want to commit to six months or whether a more flexible arrangement would suit you. For example, do you need consistent work for a few months and then only the odd project? It wouldn’t make sense to pay for work you’re not going to need, so talk to your chosen marketing agency about the options that are available.


The key to a successful marketing strategy is communication. If your chosen marketing agency is already failing this before even starting work, that could be a big red flag. You want to make sure you’re getting updates about the performance of your new campaign and are consulted every step of the way. While it’s important that the agency can use their own initiative, you never want to be completely out of the loop. After all, it is your business on the line.

You could consider a local SEO company for improved face-to-face contact, but remote businesses are getting better and better at communicating over video. Chat to the agency to find out how they’ll involve you in meetings and whether you can meet them in person as well.

Unlock Search Marketing Success

Use this guide to help you make the best decision as you go forward to upgrade your search marketing efforts and reap the rewards. Whether you decide on an agency or an in-house employee, your eCommerce business will benefit from your careful consideration.